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Transatlantic Cowgirl Mobilities and the Western Show

Project description

Girls can be cowboys too!

At the turn of the 20th century, female performers were also part of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show that travelled to Germany and Austria. They performed trick riding, roping and sharpshooting. With this in mind, the EU-funded TACOMO project will take a closer look at the female performers (dialogue, costumes and behaviours) as well as how they were received by the public (review of newspaper commentary). The overall goal of the project is to present that the gendered myth of the Wild West was created transatlantically in North America and in Europe. It will also shed light on how the United States cowgirldom interacted with continental imperial gender roles and review how their legacy resonates with popular Western cultures today.


Cowboys are known all over the world. They embody fantasies of mobility and adventure in the North American West to people around the globe. And naturally, we imagine cowboys as white and male figures who roam the prairies. The innovative action TACOMO takes a new look at cowboydom: It shows how cowGIRLS produce and revise cowboy gender norms in transnational cultural mobilities. Travelling with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show to Germany and Austria at the turn of the 20th century, female performers presented show acts such as trick riding, roping, and sharpshooting. Their acts addressed narratives of the frontier, American womanhood, and the gender norms of their European audiences, both through their performance (dialogue, costume, behavior) and its reception (newspaper commentary, advertising).
TACOMO’s objective is to show that the gendered myth of the Wild West was created transatlantically in North America and in Europe. It explores three research questions: first, how did women performers experiment on the cowboy figure at Wild West Shows? Second, how did US cowgirldom interact with continental imperial gender roles? And third, how does their legacy resonate with present-day popular Western cultures in the US, Canada, Austria, and Germany?
The action completes the researcher’s previous findings about female cowboys. It theorizes their performance through cutting edge fields of inquiry from Popular and Visual Culture, Mobility Studies and Transnational North American Studies, and it closes a gap in scholarly research on the myth of the American West. TACOMO’s special relevance to the H2020 program includes, first, a strong gender aspect in the diachronic research topic and in the researcher’s and the host’s gender-critical perspectives on academia; second, an appeal to general interest through its popular culture focus; and third, an understanding of culture as essentially mobile and produced in the travelling of ideas, persons, and objects between cultures.


Net EU contribution
€ 186 167,04
Universitatsring 1
1010 Wien

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Ostösterreich Wien Wien
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00